The conversion of Rica Rivera from spiker to libero has created a positive domino effect for the embattled UST squad in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament.
Rivera, also a beach volleyball player, has provided steady floor defense for the Golden Tigresses in their last 2 outings, allowing setters Alex Cabaños and Alyssa Teope to set-up plays wherein they could make use of all of their attackers in the rotation.
This chain reaction was in full display Wednesday when UST completed a ‘David downing Goliath’ story, shocking La Salle in straight sets.
Talking to FOX Sports after the win, a beaming Jessey de Leon shared how the latest developments gave them, the middle blockers, a chance to help the team aside from just blocking.
“Nakaka-uplift siya and nakaka-boost ng confidence kasi other than blockings, nakatulong na kami sa attacking department,” de Leon said.
“Siguro kasi si Alyssa (Teope) nga tinitignan niya kung walang sumasabay sa quick, dun niya ibibigay. May variation na ngayon,” added the 5th year player. “And instructions din naman ‘yun ni coach na pag walang sumabay sa quick, dun ibigay. Pag may sumabay, ibato sa open.”
De Leon ended the match with 8 points—a far cry from her output during the loss against UP—while fellow quicker Tin Francisco chipped in 5 markers.
On predictable plays, the 5-foot-8 spiker says, “Simula nung talo sa UP nakita na ‘yun ang problema. Kaya sa training, ‘yun na agad ang pinag-aralan namin.”
“Nakapag-adjust kami because of it. ‘Yung mga games na natalo kami naging lesson siya para maayos namin ang problema,” she added.
Aside from it being the team’s 3rd win in 7 outings this year, the victory also broke UST’s losing streak to La Salle which dates back to the 2nd round of Season 75.
“Matagal na since nung last time namin na natalo sila. 2nd year yata ako nung nangyari ‘yun. We’ve waited for it. Thankful kami na nagtulungan kami na talunin ang La Salle,” shared the lanky de Leon.
“It’s a morale booster for us. At least napakita namin kung ano ‘yung kakayahan namin na kaya namin gawin as long as we work hard for it,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio